July 19th, 2015
As Winston Churchill watched the French army march past on Bastille Day, 1939, amid the tensions of Europe, he exclaimed "Thank God for the French army ..." and with good reason. France had the best equipped and largest army on the continent. Further bolstered by the virtually impregnable Maginot Line on its eastern border with Germany, a fleet second only to Britain's and a mighty air force, conventional thinking was that the Franco-British forces could and would defeat Germany's Wehrmacht if need be, or starve Germany to death by blockade. In this episode, we learn how a German general came up with the one plan that might succeed in winning the war and how the Battle of France was lost by the Allies, dooming the continent to five years of slaughter and destruction.
April 26th, 2015
The Battle of Moscow is in some respects the most colossal and deadly campaign in all human history. Millions of soldiers and civilians fought a desperate and savage battle under the most dire climatic conditions and bleak terrain. At stake was the extinction of the Soviet state and the fulfillment of the Nazi dictator's fantasy of conquest. In October 1941, the German Wehrmacht had yet to be defeated and had mauled the Red Army in the opening months of the war in Operation Barbarossa. Suffering sometimes catastrophic losses in that campaign, Operation Typhoon, as the final push to Moscow was styled by the Germans, began with yet more devastating mistakes by the Soviet high command until Josef Stalin appointed his favorite, Georgy Zhukov, to command the defense of the capital. This is the story of Russia's reversal of fortune that halted the seemingly invincible Wehrmacht in the suburbs of Moscow itself, only a few miles from the Kremlin walls.